38th German Evangelical Church Congress
A call for more international religious freedom
On the occasion of the German Evangelical Church Congress, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) criticizes restrictions on religious freedom all over the world – and especially in the Near and Middle East. A few weeks ago, Dr. Kamal Sido, Middle East Correspondent of the Society for Threatened Peoples, met Bishop Maurice of the Syrian Orthodox Church – and he visited the church of the Kurdish Christian converts and Yazidis. The Kurdish Christians and Yazidis and Bishop Maurice sent an appeal to the German Federal Government, the German Evangelical Church, and the Roman Catholic Church in Germany, asking the German people not to let down the Christians and other religious minorities in the region. “They are dependent on the solidarity of their brothers and sisters in Germany. Iraq and Syria are still threatened by the so-called ‘Islamic State’,” Sido recalled on the occasion of the beginning of the Church Congress. “There are ongoing clashes between the security forces and underground cells of IS. During the last few weeks, there were reports of IS activity in the so-called Nineveh Plain near Mosul, one of Iraq’s major cities, and IS has not disappeared from northeastern Syria either.”
In addition to the dangers posed by IS, there is also the radical Islamist ideology, which is deeply ingrained in parts of the Sunni population of Iraq and Syria. “Unfortunately, nothing much is done to fight this radical Islamist ideology. The ideology is mainly propagated by Turkish ruler Erdogan and the rulers of the Gulf Emirate of Qatar – not only in the Middle East, but also in Northern Africa,” Sido reported. “In Libya, for example, many Christians were forced to leave the country due to a lack of state structures and due to the influence of radical Islamist militias that are supported by Turkey and Qatar.” While there were around 150,000 Christians living in Libya before the downfall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the number has since decreased to less than 30,000.
Further, Sido called on the churches in Germany to form an alliance to protect the Christian minorities in the Middle East and in Northern Africa. “NATO members that support the rulers in Turkey and Qatar should put pressure on these states. At the moment, they are promoting radical Sunni Islam for geopolitical reasons. This is a great danger for peaceful coexistence in Germany and Europe.”
In April and May, Dr. Sido visited the Mandaean religious community in Baghdad and the Assyrian-Aramaic-Chaldean Christian communities in Iraq and northern Syria – as well the region of Sinjar, the main settlement area of the Yazidis on the north-west of Iraq.
The STP will be taking part in the 38th German Evangelical Church Congress in Nuremberg from June 8 to 11. In Hall 1 (1-G72), STP expert Tabea Giesecke and other representatives of the STP will provide information on our human rights work. This year, the main topic of the booth will be the fate of the Yazidi religious community.